Review: Salt & Smoke in University City

Barbecue is meant to be shared, especially Salt & Smoke’s Bestie Combo Plate, so grab your BFF for a bite of Texas-style smoked brisket. Seating is ample, but even when busy you’ll find top-level service. On one visit, four different employees asked if I had been helped before I sat down. Like any great barbecue joint, items are subject to availability. Lunchtime bonus: It’s unlikely anything will sell out so early in the day. Now get acquainted with some meaty treats.

smoked wings // photo by david kovaluk

Smoked Wings
The smoked wings were some of the best in town. Mellow smoke let the juicy chicken come through for an elevated taste without drenching you in sauce. A tangy white barbecue sauce changed up the flavor and added bite to each bite.

Fried Pickles
An assortment of spears, chips and gherkins were all lightly fried and served with flaxseed mayo. Each had its own distinct brine for a variety of shapes, tastes and textures. Don’t be shy about dipping them in the barbecue sauces on your table. I liked the spears the most, but remember: Besties always share.

fried pickles // photo by david kovaluk

Brisket Sandwich
Any of the sandwiches are a great pick, but the brisket was a standout. All sandwiches are served on a house-made bun so good you’ll want to friend it on Facebook. The brisket was smoky and tender, served with burnt-end mayonnaise and crispy tobacco onions. The accouterments complemented the brisket while still letting it speak for itself, just like a BFF should.

Smoked Troutdale Trout Sandwich
Barbecue can be heavy for lunch. When a pound of meat isn’t the right option, go for the lighter trout sandwich. It still packed in barbecue charm with smoked tomato mayo on smoky fish.

Bestie Combo Plate
The Bestie allows you to sample more than one meat (more than once, since it’s a massive amount of food and you’re sure to be taking a couple boxes back to the office). Choose two, three or four meats, along with two sides and a popover. Start with the brisket (keeping it classic) and the fried jalapeno-cheddar bologna (because weird is good, too). The St. Louis-style ribs were also worthy – even without sauce.

So Many Sides
The garlic and herb fries were an optimal delivery method for the many tempting sauces. Try the Hotangy and Mustarolina to spice things up, or go true fire with the I Can’t Even. Turns out Ritz crackers are what’s missing from your mac and cheese – they added texture to thick, cheesy noodles in the satisfying White Cheddar Cracker Mac. If you can’t get enough meat, the pit beans with smoked bacon were akin to eating pulled pork. The creamed corn packed a pleasantly surprising kick, almost like spicy elotes, even if it was a bit runny. And finally, the sweet pepper-potato salad was sweet, tangy and bound to please both mustard- and mayo-based salad-lovers.

The Downside
At no fault of Salt & Smoke, The Loop is a mess of construction right now. Just crossing the street can be arduous, but don’t let that deter you. Walk or bike if you can – it’s worth the trip. Prices are fair, but the lack of a lunch menu makes for a daunting pile of food at noon. Either plan to take some home or buddy up with a bestie to share.

Salt & Smoke
6525 Delmar Blvd., University City, 314.727.0200,